Note: This column appears in the 10/25 issue of the Glendale Star, and the 10/26 issue of the Peoria Times
I’m not going to lie -- I am not a big hockey fan. In fact, at the Coyotes game this past Saturday night, I went to get a beer with my friend Rashad at one point during the first period. When we tried to go back to our seats, there was a cluster of people waiting to do the same. Of course, I tried to push my way through the crowd with a bunch of “excuse mes” while Rashad waited behind me, pretending like he didn’t know me. Yep, I didn’t realize you had to wait for the whistle to go back to your seat. You know you’re not a hockey fan when one of the three black guys in the arena is telling you how to act.
So yeah, I don’t know much about hockey. But ya’ know what? If I’m going to have the type of time I had this past Saturday night, then there may be hope for me yet.
At the risk of having this come across as some type of corny, “Hey Glendale -- if you haven’t been to Jobing.com Arena, then what the heck are you waiting for?” column, I nevertheless have to say how impressed I was. One thing you have to remember here is that I’m from the East Coast. The only hockey games I’ve ever been to have been Rangers games at Madison Square Garden, where I paid $55 to sit, literally, in the very last row of that cavernous arena, and could only tell that something happened by the crowd’s reaction, because my chances of seeing the puck were as good as my chances of not sitting next to a drunk raving lunatic on the train ride home. (By the way, that would also account for my ignorance when it comes to waiting for the whistle -- there were never any ushers where I was used to sitting, because I never had to worry about blocking the ceiling’s view of the game.)
I honestly had no idea that Jobing.com Arena was more than just a hockey stadium. I didn’t realize it was contained within the Westgate City Center, which features a slew of restaurants, a fountain ( I love fountains!), a concert stage, and a bunch of happy people walking around everywhere. It was just like Madison Square Garden! Except the exact opposite. (However, another thing you wouldn’t see at MSG would be a surplus of people walking around wearing Red Wings jerseys with nary a concern about getting punched in the face. But we’ll get to that later.)
The arena itself was fantastic, and I really don’t think it features a bad seat. (My only complaint? Cup holders on the arm rest instead on the back of the seat in front of you. Weird, but I’ll let it slide.) So needless to say, we had a great time. I especially enjoyed the giant remote-controlled flying taco that drops tickets down to the crowd after the first period. (I love giant flying tacos!)
But most importantly, I was also able to peak inside the psyche of the average Arizona sports fan. I arrived at the game as an indifferent observer, but found myself pulling for the Coyotes amidst the sea of annoying Red Wings fans. I don’t know how the true locals here deal with that -- so many transplants rooting against the home team. That would drive me absolutely crazy. Of course, I’ll be doing the same thing whenever the Yankees play the Diamondbacks, or the Giants face the Cards, but I’m just saying -- I understand your pain.
Hey, that guy grabbed my taco tickets!
Oh, and the Coyotes lost, 5-2. They’re not very good. But keep in mind that’s coming from someone who, during the pre-game introductions, only recognized Chris Chelios because I remember him from NHL ’94 for Sega Genesis. And Wayne Gretzky. I have also heard of him.